Set it, kill it; Marshfield couple helps organize major tournament
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – A Marshfield area couple is instrumental in planning one of the world’s largest competitive volleyball tournaments.
Kurt and Katie Officer joined the tournament committee in 1992, when team registrations totaled less than 100.
“I was not on the team in ’84 to start the tournament,” Kurt recalled. “My first year of playing was ’92 in Waupaca. It was about 75 teams then.”
Joining the tournament committee around 1998, they helped introduce a website for registration.
From there, the Officers have seen the tournament outgrow several host locations as it evolved into the immense sporting event it is today.
The tournament began in the mid-1980s at a more incidental location in Waupaca.
“… it used to be held in Waupaca and we would rent a boat from one of the local bars – to tour the chain of lakes after the tournament,” explained Kurt. “Therefore ‘Waupaca Boatride’ – and the name has stuck.”
The Waupaca Boatride (WBR) Volleyball Tournament, also known today as the U.S. Open of Grass Volleyball, continued to grow and at first, Kurt said the committee struggled to find a good location for the mushrooming tournament.
“For many years finding a suitable and central location was the biggest challenge,” Kurt stated. “Since moving to Brighton Acres in 2013, WBR has truly found a home and a partner that indeed wants to help grow the tournament. Adam Tigert- the Brighton Acres owner – is truly a partner.”
The tournament is now noted as the “world’s largest outdoor volleyball tournament,” welcoming teams from 30 plus states and three countries on 300 volleyball courts, sometimes including Division 1 collegiate and Olympic players.
What began as a doubles tournament, now welcomes doubles, triples, and quads.
Along with the players come thousands of spectators, estimated at 15,000. The influx of tourists earned the tournament recognition as a 2018 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism, making them one of five sports events to be honored in the country.
The event also features camping and nightly entertainment on the grounds.
This year’s tournament, the 35th running, will be held at Brighton Acres, 4057 Fish Ave., Oshkosh, July 12-14. As of July 5, Officer said the tournament had nearly 1,800 teams,
“It’s a family reunion for volleyball players,” Kurt said. “You see people once a year- and it very well may be at the Waupaca Boatride.”